Reporter

Fannie Mae adds former BBVA Compass chairman and CEO to its board of directors

 

Manuel “Manolo” Sanchez Rodrigues joins GSE’s board

Fannie Mae is adding the former chairman and CEO of BBVA Compass, Manuel “Manolo” Sánchez Rodríguez, to its board of directors, the government-sponsored enterprise announced Monday.

Sánchez served as president and CEO of BBVA Compass, a U.S. subsidiary of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, from December 2008 to January 2017.

Additionally, Sánchez served as a member of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria’s worldwide executive committee and was BBVA’s country manager for U.S. operations from September 2010 to January 2017.

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In September 2010, Sánchez also became chairman of the board of directors of BBVA Compass and its holding company, BBVA Compass Bancshares, serving in these roles until November 2017.

Sánchez joined BBVA in 1990 and served in a number of other roles with the international company before leading the company’s U.S. operations. Earlier in his BBVA career, Sánchez was senior executive vice president of community banking, president and chief executive officer of Laredo National Bank, and chief risk officer for BBVA Bancomer in Mexico City.

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“Manolo is another strong addition to our exceptional Board of Directors,” said Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos.

“His extensive banking experience, financial services and technology expertise, and strong leadership qualities are a great complement to those of his peers on the board,” Mayopoulos added. “He will help guide us as we continue to deliver against our strategy, improve as a company, and look for ways to provide our customers the innovative tools and solutions they need to address the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s homebuyers and renters.”

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Sánchez, who currently serves as a trustee or member of the board of directors of a number of civic, cultural and educational institutions, has been appointed to Fannie Mae’s Strategic Initiatives & Technology Committee and Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Manolo to the Fannie Mae Board of Directors,” Egbert L.J. Perry, Fannie Mae’s chairman of the board, said. “We will benefit greatly from his vast banking and financial services experience, technology innovation track record, and deep business strategy expertise.”

 

Ben Lane

Saudi refinance firm plans Islamic bond issues to fund mortgage drive

 

Government-owned Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co (SRC) plans to begin issuing Islamic bonds in coming months to finance its drive to expand the kingdom’s home mortgage market, its chief executive said on Monday.

Founded in 2017 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s top sovereign wealth fund, SRC has so far operated with financing from the PIF and short-term deals with banks.

It will now begin issuing sukuk to raise money, first in Saudi riyals but eventually in foreign currencies to attract international investors, Fabrice Susini said in an interview.

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Initial issues will be private placements but SRC aims to make its first public sukuk issue in late September or early October, probably of at least 300 million to 500 million riyals ($80 million to $133 million), he said.

SRC is part of a government-backed effort to solve one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest social and economic problems, a shortage of affordable housing, by developing the market for home loans, which is small by international standards.

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The company aims eventually to refinance 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s primary home loans market, which authorities hope to expand to 500 billion riyals by 2020 and 800 billion riyals by 2028 from 290 billion riyals now.

So far, SRC has signed memorandums of understanding to provide banks and home finance companies with slightly less than 6 billion riyals of financing, through portfolio acquisitions and short-term deals.

Susini said increasing the availability of long-term, fixed-rate residential mortgages (LTFRs) would be key to growing the market. This month SRC began offering LTFRs of 15-20 years through banks and other finance firms.

So far, banks have generally offered such mortgages only to employees of major companies and other people with stable cash incomes. Susini said that with SRC’s intervention, LTFRs could ultimately account for half or 60 percent of the mortgage market rather than their current level of a third.

“We want to create a situation in which access to LTFRs is no longer restricted and they are available to the mass of people,” he said.

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Another goal of SRC, which models itself partly on U.S. housing finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is to jump-start a securitisation market in Saudi Arabia by packaging home loans into mortgage-backed securities for sale to domestic and international investors.

Susini, previously global head of securitisation at French bank BNP Paribas, said technical and legal preparations and other work on the project could take two or three years.

Andrew Torchia & Andrew Roche

Major earthquake likely in Abuja, Kaduna, Ogun, Oyo, Bayelsa – NASRDA

 

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has identified communities in four states and Abuja as locations where major earthquake may likely occur in the country.

The Director General of NASRDA, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, disclosed this on the sideline of the second Engr. Brig. Gen. M.O Agu (rtd) Annual Distinguished Lecture in Abuja on Thursday.

Prof. Mohammed, who was also the chairman of presidential committee on the Abuja tremor, said Mpape in Abuja, Kwoi in Kaduna, Ijebu-Ode in Ogun, Shaki in Oyo and Igbogene in Bayelsa may likely be the epicentres of major earthquake if precautions were not taken.

The erstwhile inactive faults system in the country are gradually becoming active, he said, ‘’which now make earthquake likely’’ in and around the country.

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A number of incidences in these locations, according to him, is also a pointer to the fact that a big disaster may occur there, calling on the Federal Government to do something fast to avert it.

He said analysis of a 100 year-old data done by the members of the presidential committee on Abuja tremor showed that Mpape in Abuja is a hotspot which is highly susceptible to earth tremor and other earth shakeups.

“What it means is that we need a thorough study across the country to identify such hotspots so that we can constantly monitor them from satellite system and from data from outer space’’, he said.

He said the high volume of water being taken out of over 110, 000 boreholes dug in Abuja is further making the situation in the capital city worse.

‘’More than 330 metric tonnes of water being taken out every day in Abuja is causing a vacuum; is straining the earth’’, he said.

He therefore urged the FG to take a look at indiscriminate drilling of boreholes, calling on thorough regulation on earth drilling.

He also said engineers should now take cognizance of likely earth tremor when designing and constructing buildings.

Last week, the Presidential Committee on Abuja Tremor said Nigeria was now prone to seismic hazards, which make earthquake occurrence a potential disaster to the country.

The committee disclosed that when it submitted the report of its findings to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.

‘’Nigeria is now prone to seismic hazards following recent earthquake occurrences in Kwoi, Kaduna  state, Saki, Oyo State and Igbogene in Bayelsa State all in 2016. The latest occurred in September 7, 2018 in Mpape, Abuja’’it said.

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It said though ‘’these earthquakes may have been of low-magnitude, it is now certain that earthquake occurrence has become a potential hazards to the nation’’.

The committee alluded to the report conducted by Julius Berger on the geological, hydrological and geotechnical investigation for Abuja which identified Mpape as a Shear zone that is weak with several fractures and faults system.

It added that water extraction and recharge imbalance from aquifer is causing hydrological instability along the fractures.

The existence of 110,000 boreholes within Abuja metropolis with about 330,000 metric tonnes of water drilled daily is not suitable, it added.

In view of the challenges that hinder efficient forecasting, detection and monitoring of earthquakes   in Nigeria, the Committee recommended the procurement and installation of more seismometers and GPS sensors/equipment for the enlargement and networking of the Nigeria National Network of Seismographic Stations.

The committee further recommended detailed Seismotectonic study using State-of-the-art equipment in the area and the entire country.

Other recommendations made by the Presidential Committee are:

  • An integrated study should be carried out to properly delineate the fault systems in the area while ensuring that building should be constructed with the right engineering design and materials on approved sites.
  • Infrared satellites technology: Space management data for earthquake monitoring are showing more prospect. It is advised that this technology must be adopted and funded adequately.
  • At present, there is no Nigerian Code of practice that cover Nigerian Seismic building code. There is urgent need to be established the Nigerian Standard for the seismic building code. An agency such as the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) should be given the responsibility with budgetary allocations provided.
  • Earthquakes happen all the time. The key is to monitor, identify and catalog their location so that we can improve on future forecasts in time and space.
  • To do this we need to upgrade the infrastructure of the current seismic network system to state of the art digital seismic network with real time telemetry capabilities.

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  • Ecological Funds should be released very urgently for Earthquake Monitoring and Hazard Assessment in Nigeria.
  • Based on the results obtained using the probability of recurrence theory of Abuja via indiscriminate sinking of boreholes because this has been the primary reason for the stress build up leading to the Abuja tremor of 5th-7th September, 2018.
  • Government should release fund for the training of Geophysicists, Geologists, Engineers, Technologists and Researchers to participate in earth science research, in order to improve poor understanding of Nigerian and West African geophysics and tectonics dynamism. We emphasize that this research has crucial societal value as evident in earthquakes hazards readiness and mitigations.
  • Federal Government of Nigeria should take proactive and not reactive measures.
  • The Federal Government should empower relevant research Agencies mandated to carry out studies into the remote causes of the tremor and proffer solutions.

70% of Abuja’s residents live in slumps – Senatorial aspirant

 

According to a senatorial aspirant Mr. Olanrewaju Lawrence, about 70% of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) citizens are living in the slumps.
Mr. Lawrence, who is contesting on the platform of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) for a Senatorial seat in FCT in the 2019 general elections, said the situation was caused by past leaders who refused to plan well for the people.
The aspirant who made this know during the ANRP-FCT chapter primaries in Abuja, added that the capital needed a pragmatic shift in leadership in order to bring about the desired development.
“FCT is over 35 years and those elected has not brought the desired development”, he lamented.
“FCT ought to be having more than 10 million tourists as a revenue generating area for the government and creating jobs for the citizens duelling in the capital but look around, you will see infrastructure that are not well conceived”, he added.
Mr. Olanrewaju lamented that money politics was responsible for poor leadership in the capital city.
While noting that Abuja was created to be the proud black capital of the world, he called on the Abuja residents to vote wisely during the 2019 elections.

 

Housing: A Health Issue

 

Affordable housing, it’s a hot-button issue in Rochester and something so many struggles with on a daily basis, medical experts from across the nation were addressing the topic in a way we don’t always think about –from a health perspective.

“When people don’t have housing, when they don’t have a place to call home when they don’t have a place to lay their head, number one, their stress levels go through the roof,” said Dave Dunn, executive director at Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

In the past five years, 5,000 housing units were built in Olmsted County, but only 10 percent are considered “affordable.”

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“Having poor quality or unstable housing is one of the most potent forms of toxic stress, so what we’re finding is that it really is directly negatively affecting the well-being of people who are living in low-quality housing or have to move often,” said Dr. Douglas Jutte, who’s been studying health as it relates to housing, for years.

“We’ve seen more and more that your zip code, your health depends on your zip code,” Dunn said.

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At Mayo’s Transform Conference, Dr. Jutte talked about how health happens in neighborhoods.

“Things like housing, things like access to a park, like grocery stores, good transportation, decent jobs, how are the schools,” Dr. Jutte said.

“How do we help an area holistically with the physical improvements and looking at the people inside,” Dunn said, explaining it’s something the OCHRA has been incorporating.

Dr. Jutte said despite appearances, affordable housing is a great investment.

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“There are lots – billions, trillions of dollars being spent on medical care for avoidable, chronic diseases. Some of that money could be spent to help keep people healthy in the first place,” he said.

ABC6News

Economy may slip back into recession, CBN warns

…to discuss with MTN, banks over N8.1bn fine

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday warned that weak economic fundamentals currently being shown by the economy were putting the country’s exit from recession under threat.

The Nigerian economy exited recession in 2017 after suffering contraction for five consecutive quarters.

Addressing journalists shortly after the two-day meeting of the MPC members held at the headquarters of the apex bank, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the economy had started showing signs of weakness.

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For instance, he said the committee was concerned that there was a fresh threat of recession as the economy recorded growth rate of 1.95 per cent and 1.5 per cent during the first and the second quarters of this year, respectively.

He noted that the slowdown emanated from the oil sector, with strong linkages to employment and growth.

For instance, the apex bank boss said the late implementation of the 2018 budget, weakening demand and consumer spending, rising contractor debts, and low minimum wage were some of the risks to output growth.

Others, according to him, are the impact of flooding on agricultural output, continued security challenges in the North-East and North-Central zones, and growing level of sovereign debts.

Emefiele stated, “The MPC observed that despite the underperformance of key monetary aggregates, headline inflation inched up to 11.23 per cent in August 2018 from 11.14 per cent in July 2018.

“The near time upside risks to inflation remain the dissipation of the base effect expected from 2019 election related spending, continued herdsmen attacks on farmers and episode of flooding, which destroyed farmlands and affected food supply ultimately.

“In this regard, the committee urges the fiscal authorities to sustain implementation of the 2018 budget to relieve the supply side growth constraints so that they can address the flooding, which has become perennial on a permanent basis.

“Relative stability has returned to the foreign exchange market buoyed by the robust external reserves, with inflation trending downward for the 18th consecutive month.”

He added, “The gains so far achieved appeared to be under threat following the new data, which provides evidence of weakening fundamentals. The committee identified rise in inflation and pressure on the external reserves created by the capital flows reversals as the current challenges to growth.

“It noted that the underlying pressures have started rebuilding and capital flows reversals have intensified as shown by the bearish trend in the equities’ market even though the exchange rate remains very stable.

“The committee was concerned that the exit from recession may be under threat as the economy slid to 1.95 per cent and 1.5 per cent during the first and the second quarters of 2018, respectively.

“The committee noted that the slowdown emanated from the oil sector with strong linkages to employment and growth.”

On what could be done to stimulate economic activities, the CBN governor said that though growth remained weak, the effective implementation of the 2018 Federal Government budget and policies that would encourage credit delivery to the real sector of the economy might boost aggregate demand, stimulate economic activity and reduce unemployment in the country.

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The CBN governor said the committee urged government to take advantage of the current rising trend in oil prices to rebuild fiscal buffers, strengthen government finances in the medium term and reverse the current trend of decline in output growth.

The MPC, according to him, also called on the fiscal authority to intensify the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to stimulate economic activities, bridge the output gap and create employment.

The apex bank boss said the MPC expressed concern over the potential impact of liquidity injection from election-related spending and increase in federal allocations, which are rising in tandem with increase in oil receipts.

Emefiele added that the committee was concerned with the rising level of non-performing loans in the banking system, and urged the banks to closely monitor and address the situation.

He also expressed concern over the weak intermediation by Deposit Money Banks and its adverse impact on credit expansion as well as investment growth by the private sector.

While revealing the outcome of the meeting, Emefiele explained that seven out of the 10 members of the committee agreed to maintain the current monetary policy stance, while three voted to increase the rates.

According to him, the MPC decided to leave the Monetary Policy Rate unchanged at 14 per cent.

Apart from the MPR, which was retained at 14 per cent, the committee also retained the Cash Reserves Ratio at 22.5 per cent.

Also retained were the Liquidity Ratio which was left at 30 per cent; and the Asymmetric Window, which was left at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

Explaining the rationale for the decision, the CBN governor said, “Tightening will tame inflationary pressure, tame the reversal of portfolio capital, improve the external reserves, and maintain stability in the foreign exchange market.

“Conversely, the committee also noted that raising rate would further weaken growth, as credit would become more expensive, non-performing loan would increase further, leading to a deceleration in output.

“In the committee opinion, the upward adjustment would not only signal the bank’s commitment to price stability, but also its desire to maintain all policy interest rates.”

He added, “A decision to hold all policy parameters will sustain natural improvement in output growth.

“There is need to maintain the current policy stand and await a clearer understanding of the quantum and timing of liquidity injection into the economy before deciding on possible adjustment.”

When asked about the state of the Nigerian banking system following the withdrawal of the licence of the defunct Skye Bank Plc, the governor insisted that the Nigerian banking system remained “sound and healthy.”

He said, “In every chain, there will always be strong points and weak points in a chain, but what we will continue to do is to make sure that that chain remains strong in all aspects of it. Notwithstanding that, as we see areas where there are weaknesses, we will do everything possible to make sure that we keep the chain linked together, and that is what we did with Skye Bank.

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“As I have said before, I will love to see a situation where banks are not liquidated, that we have to think outside the box to see how much we can ensure that we have more banks in the country than have less number of banks in the country, and that is what we are doing.

“The situation with Skye Bank, as you well know, is that as at two years ago when the news broke that the bank had slide into negative capital as a result of Non-Performing Loan, at that time, we compelled the entire board and executives to resign and they did.”

Emefiele added, “After that, before we conducted an internal audit, the hole (financial gap) was about N370bn. After the forensic audit, it came to the level it is today, which is almost about N800bn

“So what we did was to say that having established a hole at this level, taxpayers’ money will be invested in this bank as a loan. So, we decided that there is a need to let shareholders know, particularly those that have lost their investments; we will try to make sure that small investors remain protected.

“It is for this reason that the name had to be changed for legal reasons. Having got to the point where the Central Bank of Nigeria has invested close to N800bn in this bank, at some point it must be seen to be owned by the CBN until we find investors that can pay a fair price for the bank.”

He gave an assurance that depositors’ funds in the bridge institution, Polaris Bank, remained safe, adding that the apex bank would ensure that it would not throw the over 5,000 workers of the bank into the labour market.

On the MTN controversy, he said that the N8.1bn, which the CBN asked the company to pay, was the dollar equivalent of the naira generated from its profit.

He said what the CBN sought by asking MTN to return the money was that it wanted a reversal of that transaction because it was not finally authorised by the apex bank.

The governor stated that since the funds moved through four banks, the quantum of dollars that passed through the banks was what the CBN asked the lenders to remit.

Emefiele stated, “It is important to note that this was an investigation that started about two years ago. I feel vindicated that in the history of the banking sector, I at least gave a chance where the regulator, the governor sitting in the meeting, the Director of Banking Supervision with over 20 examiners sitting in a hall with the company and the banks, asking them to resolve the issue, because we agreed that MTN is an important telecom company in Nigeria.

“After that meeting that we held on May 25, 2018, the discussion was inconclusive. We gave MTN and the banks one week to send relevant documents, but it was not done. But realising the importance of this company, we gave extra two weeks for them to provide relevant documentation to the examiners.

“Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and we felt that we couldn’t wait indefinitely and that is the reason why we released the investigative reports. Right now, they have responded and provided documents, which I have sent to the examiners to review.”

He added that the CBN would again invite the banks and MTN to prove their cases.

“It is normal that we should allow them to clear themselves and that is what we are doing. I believe that in due course, we should make a final call on this subject,” he noted.

Ifeanyi Onuba

London’s affordable homes in expensive locations, a lesson for Nigeria

The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, like the Banana Island in Lagos and Maitama District in Abuja, Nigeria, has some of the most expensive properties in the UK, but a new development of affordable homes has been approved for that location.

In the Nigerian highbrow locations, especially Banana Island, property values are such that the houses built on that island are targeted at a particular class of people. Any other person is a total stranger who is expected to leave immediately after his visit because he does not belong here.

But the story is different elsewhere. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has taken over the Notting Hill Gate scheme and doubled the amount of affordable housing being built to 35 percent, up from 17 percent. Under the new plans, about two thirds of new affordable homes will be available at social rent levels, others capped below the London Living Rent level.

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The application to redevelop Newcombe House in Kensington and Chelsea was turned down by the local council in March, before the Mayor took over the application later that month. The borough has consistently failed to meet targets for new and affordable homes.

Khan pointed out that last year no affordable homes were given planning permission by the council. But through his takeover, the Mayor has secured amendments to the plans that increase the level of affordable housing from 17 to 35 percent.

This is a big lesson for government’s at all levels in Nigeria. The mayor in London who is influencing the redevelopment of affordable homes in expensive areas is an equivalent of a local government chairman in Nigeria.

This underscores the importance the government attaches to housing the citizens but in Africa’s largest economy, housing is a luxury. The expensive locations in the country are exclusive for only the rich and high net-worth individuals who have chosen to live in such locations for a number of reasons including affordability, class, taste, and above all exclusivity of that location where only men of means are found which widens the inequality gap in society.

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For the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea to have chosen to develop more affordable homes in the expensive locations means there is a deliberate attempt to close the inequality gap in the society.

The development will include a medical centre, step-free access to the nearby Notting Hill Gate, underground station and a new public square with permanent pedestrian and cycle access.
“Since taking office, I’ve been clear I will use all the levers at my disposal to increase the supply of council, social rented, and other genuinely affordable homes that Londoners need across the capital,” said Khan.

Continuing, he explained, “having considered all the evidence available to me, and following hardwork by my planning team to increase the level of affordable housing, I have decided to grant permission for this development”.

This is a huge lesson for Nigeria where affordable homes for low income earners is not part of the concerns of government. Majority of private sector operators don’t factor affordable housing into their calculations and those who do usually go to the hinterland to develop. Demand here is not strong because many people would rather rent at the city centre than own a home in the ‘bush’.

The proposed development in London will also include important new step-free access to Notting Hill Gate station, a major improvement benefitting local residents and visitors coming to enjoy this vibrant and exciting part of the capital. This is unimaginable in a location like Banana Island where such a development will not be permitted because it will impact negatively on the exclusivity of the location.

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London has housing crisis like Nigeria, but unlike Nigeria, the government at various levels are addressing the crisis. Nigeria has a deficit estimated at 17 million units that requires an annual housing delivery of about 700,000.

But, Chudi Ubosi, an estate surveyor and valuer, says aggregate output at the moment is not up to 100,000 units.

Khan believes that ‘London’s housing crisis won’t be solved overnight, but hopes “this will send a clear message that I expect developments to include more genuinely affordable housing and other benefits for local people,’ he added.

CHUKA UROKO

How technology disruption in real estate is cutting jobs, creating new opportunities

 

As it happens in other sectors of the economy, technology has penetrated the real estate sector and has disrupted the status quo, contracting jobs and creating new opportunities, especially for the millennials.

In many parts of the world, the disruptive impact of technology in real estate is quite evident and many real estate practitioners and professionals have accepted it as the new way to go.

A recent KPMG survey on 130 real estate decision makers from 36 countries shows that 86 percent of respondents see digital and technological innovation as an opportunity, but there is a snag here. Only 24 percent of the respondents has a clear digital and technological strategy.

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The survey indicates further that 30 percent of firms in Americas and Asian Pacific (ASPAC) think the impact of property technology (proptech) will be significant with 64 percent in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) countries agreeing to that. But only 13 percent felt Blockchain, which is a technological tool that aids registering property, would improve speed of transaction due to technological innovation will have the biggest impact on sector.

In Nigeria, the impact of these innovations is already being felt, though not as deep and pervasive as it is in the Western world. Technology based (online) property platforms like Lamudi which has now rebranded to Jumia Houses, PropertyPro.ng, Real Estate Market, estate intel, etc have brought technology to bear on real estate transactions, making listing, leases and sales a lot easier.

“While using property portals is a common practice in developed markets, it is a relatively new phenomenon in emerging markets where internet penetration remains low but rising fast”, noted Obi Ejimofo, former managing director of Lamudi (Jumia Houses), disclosing that a survey of local brokers revealed that 91 percent of all professionals observed a significant increase in online inquiries while 59 percent of those surveyed cited online listing platforms as their channel of choice to advertise properties.

This shows that as an innovative and transformational tool, technology has taken position in the real estate sector, accounting for the significant changes which increased data availability and information has brought into market transactions and development processes.

“With an innovative tool like Proptech, there is already a movement driving a mentality change with the real estate industry and its consumers regarding technology-driven innovation in the data assembly, transaction, design and management of buildings and cities”, noted Luqman Edu, CEO, Filmo Realty, at the one-day Real Estate Unite Summit in Lagos.

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Proptech is a collective term used to define startups offering technologically innovative products or new business models for the real estate markets. Because of this, the market is already experiencing wave of innovation, investment and entrepreneurial activity.

The implication of this is that there will be job losses because work that five to six people would do manually, technology would employ just one person to do it and do so efficiently at much lesser time. This means too that real estate firms that are not ready to make the switch may not be favoured by the bright future of real estate that will be driven by technology.

Proptech companies are starting to develop solutions that solve problems that the real-estate market wants solutions for, but in spite of its inefficient processes and unnecessary transaction costs, real estate is one of the last industries to adopt technology which is why there is a clash of generations where start-ups (proptech) are generally aimed at millennials while real estate leaders are generally from an
older generation.

Whereas Blochain has the potential to aid land registration, real estate transactions, title ownership, due diligence and building maintenance records without need for human interface and intermediary costs, fin-tech comes in as a platform which supports transactions (sales or leasing) of real-estate; gives more information; is transparent and faster.

This means that in Lagos State, for instance, where land transaction is not only tortuous, but also expensive, the introduction of Blockchain in its land administration will make a clean sweep of the many exploitative ‘tables’ that registration files have to pass through and ‘something’ given.

“Transactions will be direct, properties will be smart buildings, there will be flexible use and flexible ownership of such properties where technology drives real estate”, Edu noted, recalling that in Q4 2016, Trulia, an online property platform, had an average of 140 million monthly unique users and “45 percent of these visitors, in the last 12 months, are planning to buy/sell a house in the next 12 months”.

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There are however, inherent opportunities in all these developments. Apart from the rise and rise of technology firms that offer these products and services, new jobs are being created for people with the requisite skills. Opportunities are also be created for vendors and tech equipment manufacturers.

It is estimated that 3-6 percent of the cost of real estate goes to legal, valuation, structural due diligence, contracts, advisory, and agency fees. Efficient storing of lease information, it is hoped, opens possibility of greater liquidity.

For investors and developers, there are also opportunities that call for increased investment in real estate. “The future of real estate anticipates unmanned, robotic buildings such as in 3D printing and warehousing”, Edu observed, adding, “there will be smart buildings that will be able to run wholly remotely such as in driverless cars and delivery vehicles or bots for logistics and real estate”.

Smart cities which will be driven by technology will integrate multiple information, communication technology and internet of things (IoT) solutions for a whole city. People will be engaged to make all these happen.

Technology has brought the world to a point where people should worry less over basic necessities of life. With crowd-funding, for instance, it does not make sense any longer for property buyers to put down 30 percent equity and take management issues when they can invest in rental cash-flow online.

Chuka Uroko

FHA targets low income earners in new N27bn housing scheme

 

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Nigeria’s housing development agency, is targeting low income earners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja in its new housing project valued at N27 billion.

On completion, the scheme will deliver 1,650 housing units of different configurations. This means that the staggering housing deficit in the country will be reduced by that number while a corresponding number of low income earning households will be taken off the property market.

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Nigeria has a heavy housing deficit burden which the World Bank in one of its reports estimated at 17 million units, a figure experts say has become not only trite, but also untenable, citing population growth, rising urbanization and increased number of school leavers that have attained home-owning age.

The FHA scheme comprises 550 homes located in Zuba, Kwali and Lugbe axis of the FCT. The buildings range from one-bedroom flats to five bedroom luxury apartments and it is expected that these projects would be delivered soon, though at different times.

“Zuba is almost completed while the one in Kwali is ongoing and Lugbe phase II has just started”, Mohammed Al-Amin, FHA managing director, disclosed, adding that there were also on-going projects in Apo, Guzape area of the FCT for the high-income earners which was 90 per cent completed.

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In its determination to serve every strata of the society, the housing authority is also planning to begin another scheme in Maitama area of Abuja which will consist of villas, duplexes and luxury houses.

Mohammed explained that the housing initiative, which was aimed to make houses affordable to the low-income earners was under the social housing scheme, adding that locating houses far away from the main city does not go well with the government, hence the initiative of building houses in the fringes of the city.

“The demand for the houses is high. None will be above five million and there are one to five bedroom houses. The good thing is, if you are going through the government mortgage system, you don’t have to pay what is called equity. You don’t have to pay 30per cent of the money before a house is given to you,” he assured low income earners who are scared of affordability.

The FHA boss advised buyers not to negotiate with anyone who is not a staff of the FHA. He assured that the digitization initiative engaged by FHA would eliminate double allocations, forgery of documents and ensure quick services.

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“There exist cartels who lie to potential buyers that they have land to give them. We keep telling Nigerians not to negotiate with anyone who is not an FHA staff. Even if the person is from FHA, you should ask him if he is from estate department. Only people in estate department and, to some extent marketing department, are allowed to interact with the public”, he warned.

CHUKA UROKO

FG injects N9bn to boost FHA programmes

 

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) established in 1973 is charged with the preparation of proposals for national housing programmes as well as execution of such housing programmes. It also develops and manages real estate in all states of the federation.

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had at many fora reiterated its commitment to the provision of affordable houses to Nigerians. Making good its promise, the government recently released N9 billion to the Federal Housing Authority for the construction of houses across the country.

FHA Managing Director Professor Mohammed Al-Amin said with the fund already domiciled in the authority’s account, it will go a long way in accelerating its housing programmes as well as providing infrastructure in its existing estates.

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He said in line with the Federal Government’s directive, FHA has stated building 550 low-cost houses in Zuba, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the Zuba housing project is the pilot phase, adding that the low-cost houses would be built in all the state capitals across the country, assuring that upon completion, the houses would be specifically allocated to the low income earners.

He said the project began 15 weeks ago and is a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom flats.

He said: “A total of 550 houses are to be produced there. We are going to invest N9 billion in the project. Already, we have this money in our account and we are releasing it according to the dictates of the Public Procurement Act.”

He said the low cost houses would also be built in Kwali and Lugbe in the FCT.

Unlike in the past, the FHA MD said they have appropriately accommodated Nigerians in the informal sector in the housing programmes under the Federal Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Office of the Vice President.

Al Amin said of the project: “For low income earners or those in the informal sector, we have what is called the Family Home Fund.

“This fund is being administered by the Office of the Vice President and the Federal Ministry of Finance. In this fund, once you can afford to contribute N30,000 monthly, then you get into the process of owning one of the buildings as far as you meet the stipulated criteria. The Zuba housing scheme is one of such.”

He said the government is bothered about the high rate of rural–urban migration with its attendant social ills, adding that with the number of houses to be built, the menace would be greatly reduced.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors, FHA, Lawal Shuaibu, said the 550 Zuba housing project was a social intervention scheme of the Federal Government, adding that the agency was also involved in the construction of commercial houses for high income earners.

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He said it has also built high-end houses at Apo district of Abuja for high income earners under its commercial housing scheme.

However, residents of Federal Housing estates in locations like Gwarinpa, Lugbe, Kubwa, Kado and Karu in Abuja have been complaining of lack of proper maintenance of infrastructures in the estates.

But Al-Amin said from the funds recently released, money would be set aside to upgrade and rehabilitation of infrastructure like roads, drainages and waste disposal in its various estates.

He said he held a town hall meeting, last week, with residents of Lugbe and that he was overwhelmed with complaints on infrastructure there which made him to invite the Minister of State II, Power, Works and Housing, Suleiman Zarma, to the estate to have a firsthand information of the condition of the estate.

“Over N100 billion is expended by the Federal Government for building new houses from 2015 to date through appropriation to reduce the housing deficit.

“FHA is working in collaboration with the FCDA to ensure that the developments are guided by what the master plan dictates but we are still having challenges of lack of cooperation from some groups of people who think they are above the law,” the FHA board chairman, Lawal Shuaibu, said

The chairman Lugbe Residents Association, Mr Odelana Adesina, said the estate is housing over 70,000 residents but faced the challenges of deplorable roads, lack of pipe-borne water and waste disposal system.

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He said: “There is no government hospital; light is also a problem and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company is not billing us appropriately.

“We also need more police outposts to help in securing the estate, among others. So, we want government to make its intervention as quickly as possible.”

The minister, in the course of the inspection, however, said the masterplan of the estate is being violated with the manner some people built on the water ways, blocking the drainage system which could lead to erosion.

He noted also that the estate was initially meant for 5,000 residents, but now has a population of over 60,000, overstretching the infrastructure. He also decried frequent violation of planning regulations of the estate by both residents and managers.

“We have our own part to play as residents and as managers of the estate because I have seen frequent abuse of the planning regulations.

“But as planning authority, we know periodically, we are supposed to look into our settlements, not only the ones we built but also the ones that are inherited by people.

“We have to look at them and do a structure plan and upgrade the facilities to be up to the standard of good living for all the citizenry of the country,” Zarma added.

He directed the FHA to ensure regulatory standard for facilities such as markets, hospitals and shopping complexes, among others, assuring that the authority would carry out a survey with a view to ascertaining the best ways to improve the road network as well as provide other services in the area.

The FHA Managing Director, Mohammed Al-Amin, stressed the need for quick intervention in the condition of the housing estate, saying the best way to do that was to bring in members of the Federal Executive Council.

“That is why the minister supervising the housing sector in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is here on this tour.

“We want government to know the quantum of the needs that are there, and we are starting with FHA Lugbe, on Airport road as our pilot programme.

“The first avenue is the major road leading into the FHA estate and it is a connection road but in a very deployable state. A lot of vehicles ply the road and it is almost obliterated due to erosion and illegal encroachment among others,” he said. He said that the FHA would be collaborating with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to enforce compliance with the master plan of the estate.

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